Born in 1718, the sixth of nine children, David Brainerd was raised in a strict Puritan home and made mindful of the religious “duties” (prayer, Bible reading and worship) at an early age. However, it wasn’t until he was 21 (1739) that he was saved—the same year he entered Yale College. Moved greatly by the Great Awakening that was sweeping America, David Brainerd set forth on a journey to know God like few before or after him. Tragically, David contracted the terrifying disease of tuberculosis, which took his life at the age of 29.
Although offered churches by the Presbytery, David believed his calling was to “convert the heathen.” He wrote in his journal:
”All my desire was the conversion of the heathen, and all my hope was in God: God does not suffer me to please or comfort myself with hopes of seeing friends, returning to my dear acquaintance, and enjoying worldly comforts.”
Working first in Nassau, New York among the Kaunaumeek Indians, one year later David moved to what is known today as Easton, Pennsylvania and worked among the Delaware Indians. From there David moved to Crosswicks, NJ, where in one year the young Indian church had 130 members. The membership settled in Cranberry, NJ as a Christian community. Shortly thereafter, his health failing, he was taken in by his dear friend Jonathan Edwards whose teenage daughter cared for him until he passed into glory.
In the flesh, that is our humanity, many would say David Brainerd accomplished little at best: ill health, given to deep states of melancholy, died young, and only had a handful of heathen converts to show for it.
But what David left was a diary that would influence generations to come. Found by his dear friend Jonathan Edwards, Rev. Edwards would publish a book entitled An Account of the Life of the Late Reverend Mr. David Brainerd, that book influenced more lives than can be accounted for. Among them are such Christian Hall of Famer’s like John Wesley (founder of the Methodist movement), and the lives of such world-changers as William Carey, Jim Elliot and Adoniram Judson just to name a few.
Here’s a quote from Brainerd’s journal:
“Today I am twenty-four years of age. [Not me…David Brainerd. LOL!] O how much mercy have I received the year past! And how poorly have I answered the vows I made…to be wholly the LORD’s, to be forever devoted to His service!”
The point of this letter is to establish that when we’re sold out to God and devoted to His service, God will use that devotion in ways beyond what we could ever think or imagine.
Here’s my prayer for all of us, including me:
Heavenly Father, may we ‘forever be devoted to Your service,’ and trust You to use our lives to make a difference for eternity. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Loyalty is a man’s best friend. Josh1:9&Heb13:5/JBS